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Thousands of Guyanese living in BVI may be forced to return home

Road Town, the capital of the main island of Tortola, was ravaged by hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017. Photo: VINO
The aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Carrot Bay, Tortola. Photo: VINO
The aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Carrot Bay, Tortola. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Guyanese nationals living in some Caribbean islands that have been hit by Hurricane Irma may be forced to return home. One senior British Virgin Islands (BVI) Government official has been reported as encouraging non-nationals, including Guyanese, to leave the British Overseas Territory.

Vincent O. Wheatley, the Sister Islands Programme Coordinator in the Deputy Governor’s Office of the BVI, made the call for non-nationals, including Guyanese, who can’t find work after the damage caused by Hurricane Irma, to leave the island soon, the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) has reported.

This call was made even as several Caribbean Community (Caricom) nationals, including those from Guyana and St Vincent and the Grenadines, were among other non-BVI nationals being housed in a community centre that had been stripped of its roofing shingles.

The building is at risk of being flooded if it rains, as only the woodwork on the roof which was damaged in some areas, is protecting the occupants of the shelters from the elements.

BVI’s 2010 Housing and Population Census Report shows that of the island’s 28,000 inhabitants, there was a small minority of people born on the BVI and there are over 113 countries’ nationals living there. Guyana is among the top 10 countries that accounted for a substantial portion of the population.

A Guyanese professional living on that island told Guyana Times on Wednesday that he could not confirm whether the information of non-nationals being encouraged to return home is true. Daniel Singh, a former General Manager, said he plans to stay on and help in the rebuilding efforts.

“I have not heard any similar sentiments from people that I have been in touch with. While I wouldn’t want to contradict what the gentleman may have said, I haven’t heard anything of that nature and I am not sure if he himself is speaking on behalf of the entire Government… BVI has been good to me and I have been encouraged to stay and help to rebuild,” he said.

Singh said various country-related groups have arranged for their nationals to return home at this time, because a lot of people are without jobs. “So, indeed while persons are taking it on their own to leave because it may be in their best interest at this point in time, I am not aware that Government has asked people to leave, but have assured people that emergency measures have been taken.”

According to him, there are Guyanese in every profession and every industry you can think of in BVI. A lot of them are employed in construction and other skilled areas. There are also Guyanese in Government, the financial services industry, tourism and other professional sectors.

“Guyanese play a significant part in the economy on the BVI,” Singh said and he would want to think that they will stay and help to rebuild their homes, communities and the country as a whole.

However, in explaining the devastation the hurricane has caused on the island, Singh told Guyana Times that his life has suddenly changed where he is now fetching water and using torchlights. But amidst the adversities, “We are trying to band in groups that are close to you, whether by virtue of proximity or by neighbours, to live under one roof that might have minimal damage. Communities have come together. It’s a crisis. But the response of the people has been quite positive. People have come together to share resources, vehicles and water supply. The response from Government and the other Private Sector has also been positive. People are getting back slowly to work.”

The Guyanese national said at present there is not a separation of who is a BVI islander and who is a foreign national. People have come together regardless of nationalities and background. “While I am devastated by the damage caused by Irma, I am encouraged by the resolve and unity and the way people have banded together to solve the supply of basic human needs,” he further explained.

Voluntary evacuation in St Maarten

Meanwhile, a Guyana-born journalist attached to the St Maarten Daily Herald told this newspaper that there are about 6000 Guyanese that are legally registered in that country. According to Alita Singh, this number could be much larger, because there might be some undocumented Guyanese who are living on the island, which was also severely affected by the hurricane.

Alita said Guyanese are just a fraction of the entire 33,000 inhabitants on that island who are all facing the same issues of their homes being completely destroyed in some cases and their need for food, water and shelter. She said while Guyanese who have relatives on the island and may feel the need to assist them, she would advise them to send basic stuff such as clothing, cash and other items that are necessary at this time.

When asked about whether the Government of that island has made any similar statements with regards to having Guyanese and other Caribbean nationals sent home, Singh said that has not been the case for St Maarten. Singh told this newspaper also that if there is any island in the Caribbean that has been devastated by the hurricane, there must be a reason for doing so.

“No Government official has asked anyone to evacuate from St Maarten. A lot of the countries which has non-Dutch nationals have sent in or arranged for (either privately or via airlift) to evacuate their nationals out of St Maarten for the mere fact that our infrastructure cannot sustain people. We have not asked anyone to leave and every single evacuation has been voluntary.”

During a press conference on Wednesday September 13, 2017, Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge reminded that lack of communication still remains a major issue that the regional response effort faces.

Minister Greenidge explained that while there is a basic framework of communication such as Honorary Consuls, Ambassadors and other diplomatic representatives, the storm has ravaged communications infrastructure, especially in places like St Maarten, St Barts and Barbuda. (Guyana Times)

37 Responses to “Thousands of Guyanese living in BVI may be forced to return home”

  • ccc (14/09/2017, 18:19) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Let my people go
  • WHY? (14/09/2017, 19:36) Like (29) Dislike (3) Reply
    Sad but I think irs a good move.. All who on work permits...all...until things get better. Jamaicans also..
    • Really (16/09/2017, 17:19) Like (4) Dislike (4) Reply
      Yeah, right, let belongers build back the place. Then for sure next time wind comes, they can have jobs again. SMH....
      • @Really (20/09/2017, 19:44) Like (7) Dislike (4) Reply
        The belongers is who built it to begin with before it became the gate way to the american dollars for the rest of u
    • hm (17/09/2017, 15:26) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      So other non nationals isn't enough for you?..
  • First Preferenc (14/09/2017, 19:45) Like (21) Dislike (8) Reply
    Keep a record of those who are leaving and give them first preference when we ready to accept workers in..
    • Must stay (25/09/2017, 02:40) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
      what i dont understand is how the expats and the ministers of government are always boasting that expats built the bvi but here is the real test and everybody running. Now is when the bvi needs rebuilding. The bvi is their cash cow and now that the they fear that the milk gas depleted they are ready to bail. Let's not be brainwashed. Now they are expecting others to rebuild and they be given a free pass to re-enter. We are glad you all have choices because we gave none and must remain to rebuild. Who go home stay home
  • Marie (15/09/2017, 09:06) Like (16) Dislike (7) Reply
    This was a hurricane and more . It will take time and with GOD help we will be back . I am a asking the government bury all foolishness we all in it together let us work in good harmony to rebuild stronger. Unity is strength.
    • @ Marie. No before u talk.. (15/09/2017, 20:23) Like (14) Dislike (25) Reply
      U dont really know Guyanese. They know it all. Talk alot. Listen to no one.. Selfish...They are useless in this re building effort...all they goung to do is watch and Criticize..
      • Hmmmm (18/09/2017, 10:41) Like (9) Dislike (7) Reply
        Guyanese Selfish? Your comment is so shallow, you probably had a bad experience with one. God will strike all this hatred towards people like you. We are human beings, breathe the same air, eat the same food and here you are with your negative comment. I will pray for people like you.
  • Missy (15/09/2017, 13:17) Like (9) Dislike (10) Reply
    The keyword in your headline is " Hpme"...Thry have homes .Thry are fortunate. Placing a strain on the meager resources of the BVI would be unconscionable. They should not have to be Forced to to return home while BVIslanders are homeless.
  • Too much nonsense (15/09/2017, 20:19) Like (5) Dislike (12) Reply
    Those are the ones with little position harrassing locals and belongers putting them out of work...Could u imaging a work permit boss sending home born here and belongers.......OMG..They should be the first to go..
  • mingo (15/09/2017, 20:56) Like (20) Dislike (3) Reply
    trust me ,, GUYANESE is the least of your problems .
  • Mis jane (16/09/2017, 18:34) Like (3) Dislike (12) Reply
    Hmmm Guyanese don't help they come to take especially the berbician
  • wize up (17/09/2017, 13:14) Like (11) Dislike (10) Reply
    all non belongers should go at this time.....
  • A Texan (17/09/2017, 20:36) Like (9) Dislike (8) Reply
    You All in the Caribbean should take a note from us Texans, When Harvey struck our State of Texas WE ALL came together for one common cause. Our Brothers and Sisters from ALL States helped out and the Same when our fellow Americans in Florida and Puerto Rico and USVI we stood side-by-side. You All should do the same.
    Maybe, later I'll talk to your government officials to see about building concrete homes so the next hurricanes can't destroy your homes. Good Luck my fellow Hemispheric Brothers and Sisters Stay Strong and united.
    • vi (19/09/2017, 02:26) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
      Hey most houses on the island was made out of concrete the hurricane was just a beast do your research before you talk shit
    • Ummm (21/09/2017, 07:44) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      What you mean.."talk to your government officials to see about building concrete homes"? So what you think we build in the caribbean? I am tired of persons that take time out to make ignorant comments about the type of homes we build without doing a bit of research first. I think you guys fail to understand the type of wind power and destruction Irma packed as a Cat 5 hurricane.

      Anywho, I don't know who you are texan but plz exit at stage left. We do not need your kind and your ignorant comments here.

      Signed sick and fed up
    • Rebecca (21/09/2017, 11:16) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
      A in US of America Texas. Do u not know your history? Then and now. Seriously.? How many millions are homeless in your State and in the USA because of the clor of their skin..r the genocide of black Americans by bullets of your police Or the poisoning of the water in Flint. How many have been strung up by the neck and hung or the murder of innocents in your infamous electric chair And on and on.. Will u be coming together to build the wall to keep out the Mexicans. The deportation of children with immigrant parents....DACA....the worse of the worse with a President supportive of all the extermination...yikes,,,

    • raw (23/09/2017, 15:29) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      Hey Texan, this is the attitude we all need havent we learn that we all need each other God is using these natural events to tell us all learn to live to together. I am a Proud Guyanese and i weep for all my brothers and sisters weather ur a belonger or none belonger we are family dont worry we will recover again God bless us all.
  • Be Wise (17/09/2017, 22:24) Like (18) Dislike (5) Reply
    It's amazing even when you're brought to your knees by Irma you still have negativity in your heart.
    Guyanese are skilled people, they are hard workers and the do not live in the BVI for free. The pay taxes the same as you, they pay your mortgage for you and like what "mingo" said Guyanese is the least of your problems...
    • wize up (19/09/2017, 03:24) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Be wize, can you say money gram or western union: most come here just to send money back home........BVI is simply a stepping stone for some folks up in here: some of us here trying to forge our way to the USA Mainland........
    • wize up (19/09/2017, 12:00) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      @ be wise: we in this territory must have a negative heart: the looting and stealing are things the VI landers knew not much until this last hurricane: documented workers went into road and litterially broke into our stores taking large sum inventory(why you don't talk about from here blogging poses)I personally sercured by business plcae and some person or person did in fact break and enter the dam place.....
    • Sick (19/09/2017, 20:06) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
      They obviously haven't learned anything from the destruction that God heaved on their heads. A set of ungrateful people they are. Imagine, none nationals through hard work and sweat helped to build and sustain the Bvi for years, a disaster strikes and the first thing you can talk about is send them home? Why am I even surprised when that's the Bvi people' motto; always wanting to send non nationals home. Glad I took the opportunity God provided and left that place last year. British Virgin Islanders need to stop their foolishness and stop ignoring the signa. Don't worry though, Father God has a plan for allyuh lives. Stay strong my fellow island people.
      • Really (22/09/2017, 18:20) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply

        Don't be so quick to judge.

        Many non nationals said they were happy because of what happened to BVI and that they were leaving this place.

        Be careful with what you think God will do further to the BVI as clearly seen this very week María hit countries Irma left untouched.

        We all have to be careful here. We are all at the mercy of God.
    • Badabin badaboom (20/09/2017, 19:37) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Hate is massive cat 5 hurricane
    • Jim (01/02/2018, 08:00) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Be wise, many landlords build apartments to accommodate people coming constantlyto the BVI ìn order to avoid the slum condition that would be created in this country. By saying you pay their morgage does not sound very sensible. Always remember that these apartment were built to supply a need or people would not put themselves in added expense.
  • ....... (18/09/2017, 12:42) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Misleading article.
  • to the foolish talkers. (18/09/2017, 21:49) Like (2) Dislike (5) Reply
    tortolians are just not nice people the belongers qualification you have wont take you anywhere .I think god is trying to tell you something. the earth is the lords and the fullness thereof. Just most nonbelongers started the big businesses of that territory.
  • So sad (19/09/2017, 12:32) Like (5) Dislike (9) Reply
    Without help from the expats, BVI will not recover for years
  • GT to the Bone (19/09/2017, 16:45) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    The sentiment expressed here only serve to confirmed what I knew all the time.A greater percentage of Tolans don't appreciate or like people that do not not belong.History will show that most of you people have a grandmother,grandfather that comes from some one of the island and many of your folks use to work on the sugar plantation in the DR.Treat others the way you would want to be treated.Every one should band together in a time like this.This can serve as a lesson of how people should live.Unity is the key.
  • Irma's Victim. (20/09/2017, 14:53) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    It's sad that after all the BVI has been through with Irma, we can still sit and fight with each other. It shouldn't matter where we're from at this point, we've all lived, benefited and enjoy nature's little secret at its best so we should all come together and help rebuild and restore our Island.
  • sympathy (20/09/2017, 23:46) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    why are some of you in the bvi so noncaring. you are always talking about island people do you live on a continent? for all the years I have lived in tortorla your nurses were trained in the islands also your doctors and teachers also some of your children went to high school and gramer school elsewhere most of the island teachers build up the schools and you are talking so ignorant, most of you sounds senseless.please stay off the nonbelongers because we help build up your country who was taught all trades by nonbelongers. cant you see god is trying to tell you something? thank you.
  • Fired. Laid off (22/09/2017, 08:12) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is serious. Its a natural and sad and bad disaster. Using it to lay off workers only make it worst...laid off maybe warranted in some cases. How can it be justified if work permits are been process for thoses same companies....
  • sweet BVI (22/09/2017, 17:35) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    You guys are great keep fighting ,more to come

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